Joseph was a very intelligent, gregarious, and happy young man as a Scout in my Troop. The thing that amazed me about him was his innate ability to mediate and diffuse discord and contention. Every once in a while, an argument would break out and there was Joe, stepping in to resolve it.
I knew someday he would be the Senior Patrol Leader, and that day came.
The night he was elected I had him stand up in front of the whole troop, and I committed him to get his Eagle Scout. Joseph never earned the rank.
Joseph went on to serve for me as an outstanding staff member at Maple Dell in the summer of 2001. He then went away for several years to serve as a missionary for his church. He returned home, got married, and started a family.
Joseph works in Las Vegas now for the City as Subject Matter Expert in Technology and Code and Program writing.
One day, he called me on the phone, and asked if he could come and visit. I was excited to see him, and expressed my encouragement and enthusiasm.
When he showed up, he shook my hand, sat down and shared a few experiences with me. It was heart-warming. Then he started to cry. At first it wasn’t much, but after he really started sobbing.
I calmed him down and asked what was wrong. He said, “I promised you I would get my Eagle Scout, and I didn’t do it!”
I smiled, and asked if he knew the Scout Oath and Law. He promptly responded, “Yes!” and recited the words back to me. I asked if he could share with me the Scout Slogan. “Yes,” he said. Once again, he recited it.
He then mentioned, “Just the other day I was putting shopping carts away at Wal Mart and got funny looks because I wasn’t an employee!”
We both chuckled and then I said, “It worked!”
“What worked?” he asked.
“The Scouting Program.”
I then explained that while getting an Eagle is important (and we want all our young men to strive to achieve that), Scouting isn’t about rank advancement—that is simply a Method. Scouting is about building character in young men—that is one of its Aims!
As soon as I said that, it was like watching a ton of bricks fall off of his shoulders. He sat up straight, rounded out his shoulders, said good-bye, and virtually floated out the door. Today, Joseph is successful and thriving. He is a wonderful man, contributing to his family, community and church.
Contrast this with a recent story of Ricardo Valencia, another young man who was found dead in a church parking lot in Gunnison Utah, January 31st at the age of twenty-one.
The news report read, “After conducting a preliminary investigation, police said they believe Valencia had been at a party at a house on the 100 N block of Gunnison, where alcohol and possibly illegal drugs were used. According to a statement from Gunnison PD, Valencia is believed to have been involved at a confrontation at the party and police received a report that he punched through a glass window, which caused a severe laceration and bleeding.”
This occurred only one day after getting out of prison. I checked to see if he was one of ours. Sure enough, he was a registered Scout in my District. He earned his swimming merit badge and achieved the Second Class rank.
But somewhere around the age of fourteen, he dropped off. We lost track of him. Scouting was no longer part of his development. It is a tragedy.
When a young man joins a Scout Unit, leaders are consistently involved, the Aims of Scouting are taught, and internalized. They become a life compass that guides and directs a young man in his life choices.
In Josephs words, “they tread a path… as if walking a trail over and over…” It becomes part of who, and what they are as they grow into men.
I feel so privileged to have been the Scoutmaster of Troop 398 with Joseph, Trevor, Zach, Bryce, Trent, Cody, Chris, Ben, and all the rest of my boys. The dividends of their life examples to me then and now, keep bringing me “paydays” that I cherish.